Hot on the heels of spring 2004’s Monster Legacy Collections, Universal is at it again. This time The Invisible Man, Mummy, and Creature films get the special treatment. The Creature set is the most obvious standout from the latest releases. Just in time for Halloween, The Creature walks among us again. All 3 Creature films are included along with all of the bonus materials from Universal’s release of the original film.
The synopsis of these films goes something like this… when a strange new type of fossil is discovered deep in the jungles of the Amazon River a scientist (Carlson) and his assistant (Adams) track down a living “Gillman”. When attempts to capture the creature fail, it becomes enraged.
The audio on all three films contains a Dolby Digital version of the original mono soundtrack. The brassy tones representing the creature rival the bass tones from Jaws as a signature of impending terror. The dialogue is very clear. A little background hiss is detectable during the more silent scenes such as the cruise down the Amazon.
There is a commentary track by film historian and genre columnist Tom Weaver on the first two films. The tracks are quite insightful.
Creature From The Black Lagoon and its two sequels are presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The original film’s 3-D is not included on this DVD. Contrast is of vital importance in this film. Brightly photographed skies and mostly white attire by the cast contrast sharply with the black waters of the first film’s title. The underwater ballet has been preserved beautifully and is a splendor to behold. The Creature’s costume works well against the stark contrasts of the sets. The Creature Walks Among Us seems to come from a slightly underdeveloped print but is still as sharp as the previous laserdisc versions of the film.
The extras found on this disc are the same as the original Universal release of Creature From The Black Lagoon. There is a David Skaal production, this time entitled “Back to the Black Lagoon”. The feature contains interviews with many participants in the film and tactfully covers the controversy over the actors portraying the Creature. No actor was credited on the film because the PR department thought that ignoring the creature in the credits would create a buzz they helped to stimulate that the creature was real.
So who played The Creature? Was it Ben Chapman or Ricou Browning? That’s the age old question. Both men have argued the case for forty plus years in fan magazine interviews or on the convention circuit. The truth is that both actors brought an important dimension to the part. Ben Chapman played the walking creature. Browning portrayed the creature whenever it was in the water. Browning’s underwater photography abilities would land him work on many underwater films including several James Bonds. If you look close enough you can see that the breastplates of the water and land costumes are not the same. That would help you identify your favorite Creature portrayal. For me Browning’s wonderful underwater dance is one of the most remarkable monster scenes in film history. With the Creature series an era in film history ended. Universal played out its string of monsters that always had “A human skin just under the surface.”
Special Features List
- David Skaal production – “Back to the Black Lagoon”